Seal rejoins The Voice Australia as Channel Nine reveals its 2017 TV schedule

Back in the red chair: Seal on The Voice Australia. Photo: Nine Delta Goodrem has appeared on The Voice for five of its six seasons to date.

Australian Ninja Warrior host Rebecca Maddern with contestants, husband and wife team Zac and Amanda. Photo: Steven Siewert

Karl Stefanovic will front This Time Next Year, as well as co-hosting Today with Lisa Wilkinson. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Hamish & Andy will have a new show on Nine but details are being kept under wraps. Photo: Nine

Returning: House Husbands (from left) Firass Dirani, Rhys Muldoon and Gary Sweet. Photo: Steven Siewert

Could Seal be the voice to turn around the fortunes of Nine’s flagship talent show?

The British singer who led 2012 and 2013 winners Karise Eden and Harrison Craig to success is heading back to Australia for 2017’s season of The Voice in a move hoped to boost the show’s declining ratings in recent years.

Seal will be back alongside fellow coach Delta Goodrem who has signed up for her sixth season on the show, with Sonia Kruger also back on board as host.

Seal’s return has been announced as part of Nine’s wider programming plans for next year, with the network promising its biggest focus yet on local content and largest ever local production budget.

Goodrem, speaking from Perth where she is currently on tour, said she welcomed the return of Seal, the hugely popular coach who first appeared on The Voice in its first season in 2012.

“Seal has been a part of it since the inception and I can’t wait for him to get back in his big red chair,” Goodrem said. “After coming from a win on The Voice this year [with her act Alfie Arcuri], Seal has won it the two years he was on the show so it will be a big challenge to come up against Seal again, but I’m truly looking forward to having my friend back.”

There’s no word as yet as to the identity of the other two coaches, but Goodrem said she welcomed her chance to return to the show.

“From day one, there was just something in the air that felt really special about it,” she said. “It felt like we were all together, between the crew, between the network, between us coaches that are artists that have lived and breathed music our whole lives, we felt like we had the one intention to really bring light to music in Australia.”

The network is promising 500 hours of locally produced entertainment viewing with 50 hours of local drama, with a rough and ready focus across the board.

Nine’s biggest punt is on what it says will be it’s number one family entertainment show for next year. Australian Ninja Warrior, a long-running Japanese format being brought here for the first time, will be hosted by the AFL Footy Show’s Rebecca Maddern and features a “fitness elite” competing on the toughest of outdoor sports courses.

Host Maddern said she expects it to be an exhilarating show. “I am so delighted to be a part of it – it is everything that I love – it is sport, entertainment and this is family friendly viewing. The family is going to gather around the TV and be a part of it,” she said.

Its 250 contestants, drawn out of a pool of 3000, are shortly to begin filming on the show’s ‘Ninja Island’, an undisclosed location.

Nine is also attempting a fresh take on a food show with Family Food Fight where multi-generational families will compete for the title of Australia’s greatest food family.

Karl Stefanovic is to front an “inspirational” new series titled This Time Next Year, where everyday Aussies attempt to achieve huge personal goals.

At first glance it seems an uneven offering, with participants pledging resolutions ranging from the monumental such as a man committed to losing 100 kilograms and a mobility impaired person who wants to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the superficial such as getting a boob job.

Other familiar figures on the schedule will include Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, who return to Nine with a new series, details of which remain under wraps.

Other new reality shows include The Last Resort: Love Me or Leave Me, where five couples at breaking point head to a relationship bootcamp on a tropical island.

Returning will be the controversial Married at First Sight, which will double in number next year to pairing 10 couples.

In line with other networks, Nine is continuing the trend for biopics with the House of Bond miniseries telling the colourful story of businessman Alan Bond, starring Ben Mingay, Rachael Taylor and Sam Neill.

Underbelly is making a return, but focussing entirely on Mark “Chopper” Read in Underbelly Files: Chopper, the franchise revisiting thecharacter it previously portrayed in 2009’s Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.

Also returning is Doctor Doctor, getting its second season next year, alongside Here Come the Habibs, Love Child and House Husbands.

The Block – which has its grand finale on Sunday – will also be making a return.

Missing off the roster for next year so far, however, is Australia’s Got Talent, which has seemingly been put out of its misery after eight seasons, and Reno Rumble, which died in the water earlier this year.

Other new offerings include Travel Guides, where ordinary Australians act as travel guides trying out the same long-haul and domestic trips with mixed results.

A true-crime series, Murder Calls, is also on the cards and revisits Australian cases and the investigators that took them on.

Richard Wilkins is also to present a new entertainment show The A List, featuring in-depth interviews with famous names.

Border Force bosses score $6400 pay rise

Michael Pezzullo, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Immigration Department has responded to a rejection by its workforce of a proposed new workplace deal by handing its senior executives a pay rise worth up to $6400 a year.

About 186 members of the department’s “senior executive service” have been given a 2 per cent pay rise by departmental secretary Mike Pezzullo the day after more than 10,000 of Immigration’s public servants voted to reject a proposed new deal.

The department says the executives have been waiting for a pay rise for as long as the rank-and-file, who have not had an scheduled increase since 2013, nor did the high-flyers get a chance to vote on their pay and conditions.

The new deal will be worth an extra $6400 a year to a senior executive at the top of the elite band 3 level, taking their pay to more than $326,400 per year.

The department’s annual report shows just more than $47 million was spent by DIBP on senior management remuneration in 2015-2016, including salaries, vehicles, redundancies, superannuation and other benefits.

Mr Pezzullo and Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg will not be included in the new round of pay rises.

Their pay packages, of $605,000 and $731,000 respectively, are set by the Remuneration Tribunal.

After Monday’s no-vote on the proposed pay deal for the department’s 13,300 rank-and-file public servants which would have paid an average of 2 per cent per year for the three-year deal, the dispute now enters a period of uncertainty.

The parties must submit to compulsory arbitration at the Fair Work Commission in a process that will be keenly watched across Commonwealth workplaces where about 97,000 public servants from a total workforce of about 150,000, have still not got new enterprise agreements in place.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman said the SES had been waiting a long time for their pay rise too and, unlike of their colleagues, had not had a chance to vote on a pay deal.

“SES pay rises in the department generally occur after EA negotiations have concluded,” she said.

SES, like all employees have been awaiting the outcome of EA negotiations

“The general pay increase of 3 per cent offered to staff in the first year of a new EA has been voted down by a majority of staff, and a further delay will occur while an arbitrated outcome is determined by the Fair Work Commission.

“SES employees are not covered by the department’™s enterprise agreement or the collective bargaining process and have not had a say on the quantum or timing of any pay rises.

“In these circumstances, the secretary has decided to apply a 2 per cent increase to SES.”

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood described the SES pay rises as a “slap in the face” for frontline Immigration officials.

“This is yet another slap in the face to the frontline Immigration and Border Force staff working to combat terrorism and organised crime,” she said.

“How can the department possibly justify giving a no-strings-attached pay rise to its highest paid executives while most frontline staff have their pay frozen and some even face pay cuts?”

Central Coast Mariners consider Canberra Stadium as potential A-League finals venue

Ivan Slavich is hoping a big crowd turns out to see the Central Coast Mariners play at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Elesa KurtzIn a sign of the Central Coast Mariners’ commitment to making Canberra their home away from home, they’re considering playing any potential A-League finals games in the nation’s capital, says former A-League4Canberra bid leader Ivan Slavich.

​And while FFA boss David Gallop told Fairfax Media a crowd of 10,000 was a pass mark for Canberra Stadium, Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp says it’s not about a “one-match pass or fail”, but laying the “foundations” for them to become accepted as the ACT’s team.

The Mariners will play the first of two A-League games at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, against the Wellington Phoenix, with the second against reigning champions Adelaide United in February.

This weekend’s game will be part of a double-header with the W-League clash between Canberra United and Melbourne City.

Slavich raised $5 million to try and bring an A-League club to Canberra, but has now joined forces with the Mariners as their business development ambassador in the ACT.

He said the Mariners, who continue to be plagued by financial woes, were committed to making Canberra Stadium a long-term home and revealed it wasn’t just regular-season games that were on the table.

“If they got into a final it’s quite possible they would play the final in Canberra and not on the Central Coast,” Slavich told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“That’s how much they’re committed and serious about Canberra being their market.”

Slavich said the Mariners were now Canberra’s best chance of hosting regular A-League games and encouraged the nation’s capital to come out in force on Saturday.

With Gallop and FFA chairman Steven Lowy set to be at the match, Slavich was concerned Canberrans might not realise how important voting with their feet was in terms of having high-quality games in the future.

He pointed to the success Greater Western Sydney has had in bringing AFL games to Manuka Oval as Canberra’s best chance of ensuring the A-League had a future there.

“People in Canberra keep talking about an A-League team and this is the first time we’ve had an A-League side play [here] since 2009, which is the last time the Mariners played,” he said.

“This is our A-League ticket … the concern I have is if the football community keeps going, ‘this is not our team, we go for the Wanderers and we go for other teams’, then we’ll forever be in this vortex of no elite football in Canberra other than the odd Socceroos game.”

Mielekamp said the Mariners wanted to “make a genuine difference to the football community in the ACT”, which is why they were not only playing games at Canberra Stadium but establishing a pathway for players by providing opportunities to join their A-League squad.

While Gallop indicated a crowd in excess of 10,000 would be a pass mark for the Mariners-Phoenix game, Mielekamp said it was more about establishing a “core group of support”.

He said with Remembrance Day falling on Friday, players would pay their respects to the armed forces with ceremonies before the game – including the Last Post and a minute’s silence – as well as wearing a specially designed jersey.

The club will also be raising money for the RSL.

“We’re not as dictated by setting a particular number, it’s probably more of a quality rather than a quantity scenario for us,” Mielekamp said.

“We’d be really excited by a decent crowd that’s really passionate and understood the game and was highly engaged with the sport.

“That would be really good for us and a sign that there is a core group of support that is there to grow from.

“We’re not looking at this as a one-match, pass-or-fail opportunity, we’re really looking … to set up something long-term that can really grow.

“It’s not about how many people come to the game on the weekend, it’s about how many people come to A-League games in five years.”

The Mariners will arrive in Canberra on Thursday evening and will train at Canberra Stadium on Friday.


Saturday: Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix at Canberra Stadium, 5.35pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.


Saturday: Canberra United v Melbourne City at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

US election 2016: Voting on a Tuesday? Americans cling to an antiquated oddity

A polling official walks past voting booths in Lancaster, Ohio. Photo: TY WRIGHT Artist Pedro Reyes with his installation Doomocracy in New York. Photo: Seth Wenig

Of all the strange things about the US election – and strange barely begins to describe the current madness – the idea of voting on a Tuesday remains distinctly odd.

Imagine juggling a day’s work, dropping the kids at childcare or school and picking them up, shopping for dinner, cooking, and somehow, amid all this, lining up at a polling booth to do one’s democratic duty.

In a nation where voting isn’t compulsory, is there any surprise that not much more than half the nation’s eligible voters actually bother?

Just 53 per cent of eligible voters – 129 million out of a potential 241 million –  turned out at the last presidential election in 2012.

That left the US dangling at 31st out of 35 of the most democratic nations in  the OECD, according to a study by the Pew Research Centre.

But why vote on a Tuesday?

It makes no sense at all in the 21st century. Tuesday is a working day.

It wasn’t so much in 1845, which is when Congress chose “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” (which makes the earliest date November 2 and the latest November 8, which happens to be voting day this year).

Americans, being Americans, have never got around to changing the edict. Perhaps they imagine it’s in their apparently sacred constitution – though it’s not.

But why was a Tuesday in early November chosen those 171 years ago?

The best explanation available is on the Federal Election Commission’s website.

America, it explains, was a predominantly agrarian nation for much of its history. The autumn harvest was over in November and the weather was still mild enough in much of the nation to allow travel over unimproved roads.

And Tuesday? It took many people a full day to travel to the county seat to vote. They couldn’t leave on Sunday, because of the need to worship at church, so Tuesday was chosen to give voters the chance to travel on Monday.

And the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month?

It forced the election beyond November 1, which was All Saints Day – a day of holy obligation for Catholics. Besides, most merchants did their books for the preceding month on the first day of the month.

“Apparently,” the election commission notes dryly, “Congress was worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might prove an undue influence on the vote!”

All of which is very quaint.

America, apparently, still likes quaint more than common sense.

Australians are haggling over whitegoods but hesitant with bills and home loans

The average saving from haggling on whitegoods was found to be $139. Photo: Dominic LorrimerAustralians are comfortably haggling over fridges and dishwashers and enjoying big savings, but are less assertive when it comes to their bills and banking products, a new study shows.

A survey of more than 1000 shoppers found 60 per cent had tried negotiating a better price on a whitegood and, of those, 94 per cent had won a discount. The average saving was $139.

While haggling over a home loan could lead to savings equal to a year’s worth of salary, less than half said they had asked for a better rate – but among those who did, 77 per cent succeeded.

“After whitegoods, Aussies are most likely to ask for discounts on home loans, and their efforts are being rewarded with successful home loan hagglers saving close to $1000 on average,” said Kirsty Lamont of comparison website Mozo, which commissioned the survey.

“Consumers are least likely to ask for a discount on internet and mobile plans, with just a quarter attempting to haggle. However, the majority who do ask are successful with combined savings over $150.”

Australians are more likely to haggle over whitegoods (average saving $139), home loan ($968) and car insurance ($99), and less likely to try with mobile phones ($75), internet plans ($78) and pay TV ($85).

The research also found male shoppers are better hagglers, saving 60 per cent more than women even though just as many female shoppers ask for and obtain discounts.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon from The Money Mentor Way, said banks made their home loan rates appear competitive using “big, fancy signs” and that consumers should always ask for discounts, especially if they’re after $500,000 or more.

“We’re quite law abiding and we follow the retail rules and in particular the banking rules and when it comes to haggling there’s this concept of engineered legitimacy – the more official a vendor makes prices look, the more likely you are to swallow them,” said Ms Pedersen-McKinnon, also a Fairfax columnist.

“But the more you borrow, the bigger discount you can command. Even if it isn’t a big amount, knowledge is power, know the deals of their competitors.”

According to her calculations, the average monthly saving from getting a 1 per cent mortgage discount – from the average advertised big bank rate of 5.25 per cent – on a $363,300 loan would be $209, or more than $2500 a year.

“To someone who thinks this is all too hard, this saving is probably equivalent on your home loan to one year of your salary over the lifetime of the mortgage,” she said.

“Civility is key. Arm yourself with information and then be clear, calm and compelling. I just knocked $200 off my house insurance premium as a result of a very amicable chat with the consultant.”

Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn said being an effective haggler required time and persistence.

He said negotiations should start with a polite question about whether the retailer is open to negotiation and the customer should go through with the deal.

“You can haggle over furniture, beds, consumer durables essentially because retailers have to shift stuff,” he said.

“We do not live in a fixed price universe. We’re given the impression of that. You can ask and if they decline, take your business elsewhere.” How to haggleDo your research: Compare prices so you know what rates or fees are on offer and tell the provider they’ll have to beat the best offer to get your business.Don’t accept the first offer: Always ask if the initial discount you’re offered is the best they can do.Use your bargaining power: Ask if you can get a bigger discount by bringing your credit card to the bank or bundling your mobile, internet and pay TV.Don’t limit yourself to haggling on rates: You can also ask for discounts or waiver on fees or for extra features to be added for free.Prepare to bluff: Tell your provider you’ll walk away so they know you’re serious about getting the best deal.

(Source: Mozo)

ACT Meteors all-rounder Erin Osborne overlooked for Southern Stars squad to play South Africa at Manuka Oval

The Southern Stars have overlooked ACT Meteors gun Erin Osborne for the first three games of the upcoming ODI series against South Africa. Photo: Jay CronanACT Meteors coach James Allsopp says Erin Osborne will let her “bat and ball do the talking” as she looks to “prove a few people wrong”, after the all-rounder was overlooked for the first three games of the upcoming one-day Internationals against South Africa.

It means Osborne will miss out on representing her country on her home ground of Manuka Oval after the 13-woman squad was named on Tuesday.

The Stars play their first two games of the series at Manuka with the first on Friday week.

Allsopp felt the squad must have been decided before the Meteors’ upset victory over South Australia at Manuka Oval  a week ago, which  Osborne almost won single handedly.

She took 4-24 from her 10 overs of off-spin and has also been consistent with the bat during the Women’s National Cricket League.

“She’s been an outstanding player throughout the WNCL so far and almost single handedly won us the game against South Australia under lights Sunday week ago,” Allsopp said.

“I’m assuming they might have already picked the team prior to that performance because her ability to turn the game on its head the way she bowled was a massive contributing factor to us taking the game.

“Her and I have spoken and she’s really determined to let her bat and ball do the talking in the next two games and try and prove a few people wrong and try and get herself back in the Stars team.”

While the first two ODIs are taking place at Manuka, Osborne and the Meteors will  be playing against Queensland and NSW, needing two wins to have a chance of making the finals.

Not only will Osborne be trying to help the Meteors achieve that, but she also has the chance to force her way into the Southern Stars squad for the final two games of the South Africa series.

“Unfortunately she won’t come into the games down in Canberra, but Erin knows that she needs to go on and make big scores  and really press her claims as a top-order batsman as well as what she does with her off-spin bowling,” Allsopp said.

“I think if in the last two games she really puts some good performances under her belt, one it will go a long way to us winning those last two matches and she’s really going to put her name out for Stars selection.”


November 18: Australia v South Africa  at Manuka Oval, 2.20pm.

November 20: Australia v South Africa  at Manuka Oval, 2.20pm.

Southern Stars squad: Meg Lanning (c), Alex Blackwell (vc), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.

A-League: Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon expects Wellington Phoenix to attack

Coach Paul Okon says the Central Coast Mariners are more confident after their first win of the season. Photo: Morne de KlerkThe Wellington Phoenix might be missing five of their first-choice XI, but Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon is still expecting them to have a strong team at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.

Okon also expects his team to have come through their first win of the A-League season unscathed, but will know more when they return to training.

Wellington will have the guts ripped out of their team ahead of the important clash, with both sides looking to build momentum after tasting victory for the first time this season.

They will be without captain Andrew Durante, goalkeeper Glen Moss, striker Kosta Barbarouses, Louis Fenton and Michael McGlinchey, who will be with the All Whites squad preparing for World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia on Saturday and Tuesday.

But Okon said the Phoenix had shown the depth they have with a gutsy 1-0 loss to Melbourne City in round one when they were also missing a raft of players.

“Phoenix will obviously be disappointed they lose the players and for us, whichever team they put out is going to be a strong team,” he said on Tuesday.

“I saw them in round one when they played Melbourne City, they played really well and made life difficult for Melbourne City.

“For us, even if Wellington had all their players, yes we do look at the opposition and we do analyse them and try to know as much as we can about them, it’s really about what we’re trying to do and what we want to do.

“The fact they’re missing players is irrelevant. We expect a tough game.”

Okon expected to bring a full-strength side to Canberra, which the former Socceroo said was like a “second home” to him.

He’s spent plenty of time in the nation’s capital as a coach with the Australian under-20s and under-23s.

The Mariners coach hoped Canberra residents would support the game and promised them an attacking spectacle at Canberra Stadium.

He said Central Coast’s strength lay in their attacking players Roy O’Donovan, Blake Powell, Connor Pain and Fabio Ferreira – who he said were as good as any in the A-League.

While Okon said the Mariners would take confidence from the 2-1 victory over reigning champions Adelaide United on the weekend, they went into every game wanting to win so it wouldn’t change their approach.

“Our front-four attack is up there with all the other teams in the A-League,” Okon said.

“That’s our intention, to take the game to the opposition and hopefully that brings along chances and Wellington has a real attacking philosophy.

“We’ve played them twice in pre-season and both games were both teams really having a go so I’d expect that’s what will happen on Saturday.”


Saturday: Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix at Canberra Stadium, 5.35pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.


Saturday: Canberra United v Melbourne City at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

Scrap international T20s and consider shortening Test matches, says Stephen Fleming

Cricket should scrap Twenty 20 international matches and give four-day Tests real consideration to draw bigger crowds to the sport, according to one of the game’s most respected tacticians.

Former New Zealand captain-turned-Melbourne Stars coach Stephen Fleming also said losing to South Africa in Perth should act as a jolt to the Australian team, which was under a great deal of pressure to lift its game.

Once described by Australian spin king Shane Warne as the best captain in world cricket, Fleming said the world was getting faster and Test cricket was not keeping up.

Although he was not yet completely convinced of the need to shorten the traditional five-day Test format, he was leaning in favour of changing it to four.

It would mean matches could run from Thursday to Sunday, with the players on the ground for slightly longer each day.

Fleming said five-day Test matches too often ambled along and may not be dynamic enough for modern audiences.

“There are periods during the game now when it drifts and audiences have dropped off,” he said.

“At times I’ve commentated and watched a Test and it’s meandered through rather than pushed on.”

Captains may need to be encouraged to play faster, a style that was more natural to a new generation of players that had grown up playing T20 cricket.

Fleming said any change to test Traditions would be difficult, but the matter seemed to now be open to discussion in cricket circles, whereas in the past it would have been seen as fanciful.

“It’s history you’re dealing with and the fear of changing something that’s been in place for so long and so many people have played it, it means so much to the people who have played it,” he said.

Fleming said he had once believed one-day cricket would die with the increased popularity of T20, but the popularity of last year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand had proven otherwise.

Instead international T20 could be cancelled to help clear cricket’s crowded schedule.

“That will free up a little more time, on players and selectors and even in respect of a country’s cost to send a T20 side over,” Fleming said.

After making a strong start against South Africa at the WACA, Australia went on to lose by 177 runs.

The team’s three Test losses in Sri Lanka mid-year could be explained away by difficult overseas conditions, Fleming said, not so their loss in Perth.

“There’s some talented players around, but when you start giving consistent performances that have the players under pressure, you start seeing the cracks appear,” he said.

Fleming said it was a challenging time for the Australian team, but he encouraged captain Steve Smith to focus on creating the next great period of Australian cricket, rather than feeling upset about the recent losses.

He said the Australian side could improve quickly.

“It comes back to that vision of where Steve and [Australian coach] Darren Lehmann want the side to be and sticking to that and looking at this as a short-term challenge,” he said.

Brumbies’ Phil Thomson says Christian Lealiifano in good spirits ahead of bone marrow transplant

Christian Lealiifano will have a bone marrow transplant in Melbourne this week. Photo: Jay CronanACT Brumbies acting chief executive Phil Thomson says Christian Lealiifano is in good spirits as he prepares to undergo a bone marrow transplant in Melbourne.

Lealiifano’s sister Sally will be the donor, with the transplant expected to take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

The 29-year-old has been in Melbourne undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia and will remain in hospital for a month and in Melbourne for 100 days after surgery.

Thomson said they were hoping for a speedy recovery from the Brumbies co-captain, but there was no time frame on how long it would take.

Lealiifano was swamped with messages of support from around the world after he was diagnosed with blood cancer in August.

Brumbies and Wallabies players, including David Pocock and Matt Toomua, shaved their heads to show their support for Lealiifano.

“He started his chemo last week and has gone through that process and now the next step will be the bone marrow [transplant], that should be taking place pretty shortly,” Thomson said.

“He’s got plenty of support down there in Melbourne, he’s in good spirits.

“It varies from case to case [how long it takes] … best-case scenario is it’s a quick process, but everyone needs to be aware it could be a long process too.”

Meanwhile, Southland Stags flyhalf Wharenui Hawera will train with the Brumbies over the next two months in a bid to earn a Super Rugby contract.

Hawera played for the Stags in this year’s ITM Cup and Thomson said the Brumbies coaching staff would have a look at him in November and December.

They will continue their search for a playmaker, with Lealiifano sidelined indefinitely and Matt Toomua having left for England.

“[Hawera] is a No.10, inside back, who’s going to train with us for the November-December period to see how he goes,” Thomson said.

“Obviously we’re still looking at our options at No.10 there. He’s coming over for an opportunity to train and we’ll assess how he goes.

“We’ve got some options that we’re looking at internally, but we also need to look at a few external options.

“He’s someone the coaching staff have identified as worthwhile having a look at.”

The Brumbies are expected to announce the signing of an outside back in the coming days.

George Brandis misled Parliament over Justin Gleeson affair, Senate inquiry concludes

Attorney-General George Brandis could be censured by the Senate. Photo: Andrew MearesAttorney-General George Brandis misled Parliament over his dealings with the government’s chief legal adviser, a Senate committee has concluded in a damning report that reopens the toxic rift between the two men.

In a report released late on Tuesday, the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs concluded Senator Brandis did not consult former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson, SC, about a controversial change to the way he would be briefed.

It sets the stage for a censure motion against Senator Brandis, who had assured Parliament Mr Gleeson was advised about the move. Mr Gleeson resigned his post on October 24, saying their relationship was “irretrievably broken”.

The chair of the committee, Labor senator Louise Pratt, said the report demonstrated the “unfitness of the Attorney-General to hold his high office” and he had made “false and misleading statements” in the Senate.

But Liberal senator Ian Macdonald, one of two government senators who delivered a dissenting report, said the Labor and Greens-dominated committee always conducted “political witch hunts” and “nobody takes any notice” of its work.

The inquiry had “destroyed the career of the Solicitor-General who was himself appointed by the previous Labor administration”, Senator Macdonald and his Liberal colleague Linda Reynolds said.

The country’s two most senior lawyers had been at loggerheads over a legally binding direction issued by Senator Brandis before the July 2 election which prevented ministers, including the Prime Minister, seeking advice from Mr Gleeson without his written approval.

Mr Gleeson had flatly rejected claims he was consulted about the change.

Legal experts had expressed concern the direction posed a risk of “freezing out” the solicitor-general, who holds a statutory office and gives independent advice on matters of national significance as well as appearing in high-profile court cases.

Senator Brandis has rejected claims he was “shopping around” for advice he regarded as politically convenient from members of the private bar.

The majority of the committee concluded Senator Brandis had relied on a “fanciful definition of ‘consultation'” and Mr Gleeson was not advised about the “improper” direction until it had taken effect.

It said claims Mr Gleeson was consulted about the move brought to mind Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, who said: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”

The committee recommended the direction be withdrawn and Senator Brandis be censured over the move.

The report raised concerns the direction “inhibits free and independent access to the Solicitor-General by agencies and ministers other than the Attorney-General”.

The committee concluded the Attorney-General’s actions “represent a gross infringement on the independence of the Solicitor-General, and call into question the professional integrity and judgment of the Attorney-General”.

“The lack of respect that the Attorney-General has displayed towards the Solicitor-General, and the state of their relationship prior to the Solicitor-General’s resignation – one of the most critical relationships in his portfolio – demonstrates his lack of competence to hold the office of Attorney-General,” it said.

At a fiery hearing on October 14, Mr Gleeson told the Senate committee the direction effected a “radical” change to the way his office functioned and he regarded it as unlawful.

He said if the Governor-General or Prime Minister came to him directly for advice he would consider it his legal duty to make a “conscientious decision” to flout the direction and provide them with advice.

But Senator Brandis told the committee the change was consistent with the law and historical practice and was merely “administrative housekeeping”.

Labor and crossbench senators are poised to strike down the direction in the Senate as early as Thursday.

The Senate committee inquiry was initiated by Labor with the support of the crossbench.

Senator Brandis has previously been censured by the Senate over his attacks on Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs.

Comment was sought from the Attorney-General.

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